Ethics and consent
Research involving human subjects, human material, or human data, must have been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and must have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. A statement detailing this, including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number where appropriate, must appear in all manuscripts reporting such research. If a study has been granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption). Further information and documentation to support this should be made available to the Editor on request. Manuscripts may be rejected if the Editor considers that the research has not been carried out within an appropriate ethical framework. In rare cases, the Editor may contact the ethics committee for further information.
Retrospective ethics approval
If a study has not been granted ethics committee approval prior to commencing, retrospective ethics approval usually cannot be obtained and it may not be possible to consider the manuscript for peer review. The decision on whether to proceed to peer review in such cases is at the Editor's discretion.
Consent to participate
For all research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) and a statement to this effect should appear in the manuscript.
Access to publications
Every article appearing in (IJMHS) Journals is 'open access', meaning that:
- The article/book is universally and freely accessible via the Internet, in an easily readable format. All publications are deposited immediately upon publication, without embargo, in an agreed format - current preference is PDF and XML widely and internationally recognized open access repository.
- The author(s) or copyright owner(s) irrevocably grant(s) to any third party, in advance and in perpetuity, the right to use, reproduce or disseminate the article in its entirety or in part, in any format or medium, provided that no substantive errors are introduced in the process, proper attribution of authorship and correct citation details are given, and that the bibliographic details are not changed. If the article is reproduced or disseminated in part, this must be clearly and unequivocally indicated.
Consent for publication
For all manuscripts that include details, images, or videos relating to individual participants, written informed consent for the publication of these must be obtained from the participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) and a statement to this effect should appear in the manuscript. If the participant has died, then consent for publication must be sought from the next of kin of the participant. Documentation showing consent for publication must be made available to the Editor on request, and will be treated confidentially. In cases where images are entirely unidentifiable and there are no details on individuals reported within the manuscript, consent for publication of images may not be required. The final decision on whether consent to publish is required lies with the Editor.
IJMHS, supports initiatives to improve reporting of clinical trials. This includes prospective registering of clinical trials in suitable publicly available databases. In line with ICMJE guidelines, Journal requires registration of all clinical trials that are reported in manuscripts submitted to journal.
The ICMJE uses the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of a clinical trial, which is "any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes". This definition includes phase I to IV trials. The ICMJE defines health-related interventions as "any intervention used to modify a biomedical or health-related outcome" and health-related outcomes as "any biomedical or health-related measures obtained in patients or participants". Authors who are unsure whether their trial needs registering should consult the ICMJE FAQs for further information.
Suitable publicly available registries are those listed on the ICMJE website as well as any of the primary registries that participate in the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, including the ISRCTN registry, which is administered and published by Biomed Central.
The trial registration number (TRN) and date of registration should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
For clinical trials that have not been registered prospectively, IJMHS encourages retrospective registration to ensure the complete publication of all results. Further information on retrospective registration is available from the AllTrials campaign, the Public Accounts Committeeand the Department of Health. Many SpringerOpen journals consider manuscripts describing retrospectively registered studies. The TRN and date of registration should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Registration of systematic reviews
SpringerOpen journals support the prospective registration of systematic reviews and encourages authors to register their systematic reviews in a suitable registry (such as PROSPERO). Authors who have registered their systematic review should include the registration number as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Availability of data and materials
Submission of a manuscript to a IJMHS implies that materials described in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data, will be freely available to any scientist wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes, without breaching participant confidentiality. IJMHS strongly encourages that all datasets on which the conclusions of the paper rely be either deposited in publicly available repositories (where available and appropriate) or presented in the main manuscript or additional supporting files, in machine-readable format (such as spreadsheets rather than PDFs) whenever possible. Please see the list of recommended repositories below. For several journals, deposition of the data on which the conclusions of the manuscript rely is required. Please check journal’s Submissions Guidelines for more information.
Availability of data and materials section
All authors must include an “Availability of Data and Materials” section in their manuscript detailing where the data supporting their findings can be found. Authors who do not wish to share their data must state that data will not be shared, and give the reason. The following format for the Availability of Data and Materials section should be used:
"The dataset(s) supporting the conclusions of this article is (are) available in the [repository name] repository [unique persistent identifier and hyperlink to dataset(s) in http:// format]."
The following format is required when data are included as additional files:
"The dataset(s) supporting the conclusions of this article is (are) included within the article (and its additional file(s))."
Publication of clinical datasets
For datasets containing clinical data, authors have an ethical and legal responsibility to respect participants’ rights to privacy and to protect their identity. Ideally, authors should gain informed consent for publication of the dataset from participants at the point of recruitment to the trial. If this is not possible, authors must demonstrate that publication of such data does not compromise anonymity or confidentiality or breach local data protection laws, for the dataset to be considered for publication. Authors must consider whether the dataset contains any direct or indirect identifiers and consult their local ethics committee or other appropriate body before submission if there is any possibility that participants will not be fully anonymous. Authors must state in their manuscript on submission whether informed consent was obtained for publication of patient data. If informed consent was not obtained, authors must state the reason for this, and which body was consulted in the preparation of the dataset.
Software and code
Any previously unreported software application or custom code described in the manuscript should be available for testing by reviewers in a way that preserves their anonymity. The manuscript should include a description in the Availability of Data and Materials section of how the reviewers can access the unreported software application or custom code. This section should include a link to the most recent version of your software or code (e.g. GitHub or Sourceforge) as well as a link to the archived version referenced in the manuscript. The software or code should be archived in an appropriate repository with a DOI or other unique identifier. If published, the software application/tool should be readily available to any scientist wishing to use it for non-commercial purposes, without restrictions . If the implementation is not made freely available, then the manuscript should focus clearly on the development of the underlying method and not discuss the tool in any detail.
Authors should include full information on the statistical methods and measures used in their research, including justification of the appropriateness of the statistical test used. Reviewers will be asked to check the statistical methods, and the manuscript may be sent for specialist statistical review if considered necessary.
To enable effective tracking of the key resources used to produce the scientific findings reported in the biomedical literature, authors are expected to include a full description of all resources with enough information to allow them to be uniquely identified. In support of the Resource Identification Initiative (RII), we encourage authors to use unique Resource Identifiers (RRIDs) within their manuscript to identify their model organisms, antibodies, or tools.
Journal requires authors to declare all competing interests in relation to their work. All submitted manuscripts must include a ‘competing interests’ section at the end of the manuscript listing all competing interests ([financial] and [non-financial]). Where authors have no competing interests, the statement should read “The author(s) declare(s) that they have no competing interests”. The Editor may ask for further information relating to competing interests.
Editors and reviewers are also required to declare any competing interests and will be excluded from the peer review process if a competing interest exists.
What constitutes a competing interest?
Competing interests may be financial or non-financial. A competing interest exists when the authors’ interpretation of data or presentation of information may be influenced by their personal or financial relationship with other people or organizations. Authors should disclose any [financial competing interests] but also any [non-financial competing interests] that may cause them embarrassment if they were to become public after the publication of the manuscript.
Please see [Commercial organizations] for more information relating to competing interests on manuscripts from commercial organizations.
Financial competing interests
Financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):
- Receiving reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of the manuscript, either now or in the future
- Holding stocks or shares in an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of the manuscript, either now or in the future
- Holding, or currently applying for, patents relating to the content of the manuscript
- Receiving reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that holds or has applied for patents relating to the content of the manuscript
Non-financial competing interests
Non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to) political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, and intellectual competing interests. If, after reading these guidelines, you are unsure whether you have a competing interest, please contact email@example.com
Authors from pharmaceutical companies, or other commercial organizations that sponsor clinical trials, should declare these as competing interests on submission. They should also adhere to the Good Publication Practice guidelines for pharmaceutical companies (GPP2), which are designed to ensure that publications are produced in a responsible and ethical manner. The guidelines also apply to any companies or individuals that work on industry-sponsored publications, such as freelance writers, contract research organizations and communications companies.
To give appropriate credit to each author, the individual contributions of authors should be specified in the manuscript.
An 'author' is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study. According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines, to qualify as an author one should have:
- made substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
- been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
- given final approval of the version to be published. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content; and
- agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, alone, does not usually justify authorship.
Please see individual journal's Submission Guidelines for information on the format for listing author contributions.
All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an ‘Acknowledgements’ section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help or writing assistance, or a department chair who provided only general support.
Changes in authorship
In line with COPE guidelines, IJMHS, requires written confirmation from all authors that they agree with any proposed changes in authorship of submitted manuscripts or published articles. This confirmation must be via direct email from each author. It is the corresponding author’s responsibility to ensure that all authors confirm that they agree with the proposed changes. If there is disagreement amongst the authors concerning authorship and a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, the authors must contact their institution(s) for a resolution. It is not the Editor’s responsibility to resolve authorship disputes. A change in authorship of a published article can only be amended via publication of an [Erratum].
Scientific (medical) writers
The involvement of scientific (medical) writers or anyone else who assisted with the preparation of the manuscript content should be acknowledged, along with their source of funding, as described in the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) guidelines. The role of medical writers should be acknowledged explicitly in the ‘Acknowledgements’ or ‘Authors’ contributions’ section as appropriate.